Kanat Islam did his part to remain in the mix for a major middleweight fight, even if it won’t necessarily come next.

The unbeaten contender ended a 16-month ring hiatus with a 7th round knockout win over Jeyson Minda in their middleweight affair Saturday evening at Doubletree Miamimart Hotel in downtown Miami.

Islam scored three knockdowns, the last of which produced the ending at 2:47 of round seven.

The buildup wasn’t as easy as was the finish for Islam, a China-born Kazakhstani who has called Florida and California home in recent years. Minda has hit journeyman status in his career, bouncing between weight divisions for the most lucrative opportunities but showed up on Saturday determined to play the role of spoiler. The 27-year old Ecuadorian was able to catch Islam with jabs and right hands, fighting on relatively competitive terms early in the bout.

The tide turned in round four when Islam sent Minda to the canvas with a straight right hand for the first of three times on the night. The sequence nearly ended in disaster, as Islam connected with a right uppercut while Minda was on the canvas. He was credited for the knockdown but also deducted two points for what was deemed an intentional foul.

Action continued, with Islam slowly seizing control of the fight. Minda showed heart but was beginning to run on fumes. Islam exploited the moment, hammering home a jab, right hand left hook which left his opponent on wobbly legs midway through round seven. A pair of left hands sent Minda to the ropes and down to the canvas. Islam eased up on an ensuing right hand as the referee officially ruled a knockdown.

Minda beat the count but was on borrowed time. Islam went on the attack, interrupted only by a brief clinch from his battered show before closing the show with a right hand, left hook and follow-up right to produce the third and final knockdown. The fight was stopped on the spot without a count being issued.

The loss is Minda’s fourth—all inside the distance—within his last five starts. The well-traveled boxer has been knocked out twice at heavyweight and was also the victim of a 4th round stoppage at the hands of former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in their light heavyweight bout last November in Culiacan, Mexico. Saturday’s result runs his record to 14-4-1 (9KOs).

Islam advances to 28-0 (22KOs) with the win, his first since a hard-fought 12-round decision over Walter Kautondokwa. Next up for the unbeaten 36-year old remains up in the air. He emerged as an opponent of interest for Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29KOs), the 24-year old undefeated former junior middleweight titlist from Tijuana who is angling for a ring return in mid-to-late April. Such a fight remains an option, though perhaps less likely than was the case earlier in the month when his name first entered the conversation.

Munguia was also previously in discussion for a shot at two-time and reigning middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs), who remains in need for an approvable opponent for a planned return in May. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox